Yotopoulos pays for interview

One day after a provincial newspaper published an interview with Alexandros Yotopoulos, the government ordered an investigation into how the suspected leader of the November 17 terrorist group was able to communicate with the press from his Korydallos Prison cell. Prison authorities took swift disciplinary action in response to the Lamiakos Typos interview, banning the 58-year-old mathematician from conducting phone calls or receiving visits from relatives – or even his lawyer – for five days. Under prison regulations, inmates require special permission to speak to the press. In a question-and-answer interview it published on Sunday under a staff reporter’s byline, the Lamia newspaper quoted Yotopoulos as denying involvement with N17, whose activities he refused to condemn – although noting that he disagreed with the group’s 27-year string of assassinations and bomb attacks. He also refuted that the leftist group should be described as a terrorist organization. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said prison authorities would investigate how the interview took place, but stressed that it could not have been smuggled out in writing during visiting hours. «There was no telephone communication between Yotopoulos and the newspaper… Now, whether the text [had been prepared] in advance or there was some other form of communication through a third person, is another matter.» Yesterday, Yotopoulos, who has been in prison since July 18, reportedly confirmed the interview’s authenticity. Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Savvas Xeros, one of Yotopoulos’s 16 co-defendants, told journalists yesterday his client had retracted initial claims that Yotopoulos was the group’s founder, describing him instead as an intellectual and «one of [N17’s] many supporters.»